It’s mid-year already…whoa.
Crazy I know, but a hard reality we all need to face no matter who we are, or what we do for a living…it’s mid-year and time to figure out what you want to do with your life over the next six months.
The most underrated practice so many well-intentioned entrepreneurs lack is taking a good hard look at where they’re at with their business.
Have you taken a few moments to reflect?
When the clock struck new year, you reflected. You were wild-eyed and full of lofty goals. You were running hard out of the gate but you inevitably met a road block after two or three weeks. The road blocks weakened your stride and forced you to run at a slower pace.
February hit and the passion dulled, the aspirations became foggy and you started forgetting what it was you set out to do this year.
You neglected to keep your goals front-of-mind and you had no one but yourself holding you accountable.
It didn’t take long for your desires to fizzle into the realm of:
“oh yeah, I forgot I wanted to do that.”
It’s helpful to take both a “look-back” and a “look-ahead” perspective during your personal mid-year review. There are nine questions you need to be asking yourself at mid-year so you can make adjustments for the rest of the year.
Part One: “Look-Back” Questions
This matters, don’t take it lightly. In efforts to “walk the talk,” I’ve added my personal account and mid-year reflections/aspirations to help you through the process.
Q1: Did I Work on the Right Things for My Business?
Productivity with purpose is about working on the right things. What did you set out to do this year and how does it relate to what you envision for you and your family?
Here is an additional subset of questions you can ask yourself to gain more clarity around the topic of "the right things":
- What are all of the great things you accomplished over the past six months?
- How do these great things relate to your personal and professional vision?
- What goals did you set out to conquer, did you achieve them or miss the mark?
- Were your actual accomplishments what you originally set out to do? Why or why not?
- How did your accomplishments drive you closer to your purpose?
- If you’re an employee, did you take action to getting on a high-profile project? Why or why not?
- If you’re an entrepreneur, did you sell anything? Did you build a team? Why or why not?
I look at my personal answer to these questions and reflect.
As a new coach, my accomplishment is that I actually have paying clients. I overcame a ton of fear, I learned how to value my services and gained a tremendous amount of confidence that I can help people use productivity to knock their own goals out of the park.
I also launched and continued to produce my podcast, The Make it Snappy Productivity Show twice per week. My goal was to transition from Engineer/Project Manager to Productivity Strategist and establish credibility as a newbie in the productivity space - I'm doing this through the podcast.
I now have a brand and a consistent, positive message that supports my personal vision for my family.
As far as missing the mark, well, my estimation of how long things take for me to do was way off. In addition, accounting for transition time was huge for me.
I experimented with working half days on certain tasks, such as writing my blog, then switching to recording my podcast, or consulting, or even sales (which I spent far less time on than I should have).
I found there was a tremendous amount of time I was losing by not focusing on specific types of work each day because of lost efficiency through the transitions.
Q2: What Relationships Did I Create or Develop?
Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, relationships are everything. Taking a moment to think about the people you are surrounding yourself with is critical.
- Did I foster new relationships, either in-person or online?
- How did I serve the people I encountered?
- What was the affect on my business?
- What did I learn about myself from these new relationships?
- Are you consumed by work and neglecting people who’ve helped you get to where you are, or could help you get to where you want to be?
I’ve met some incredible people this year, primarily through podcasting, but also through my coach, Greg Faxon, and The Tampa Bay Business Owner’s (TBBO) organization. TBBO provided the support I needed to start podcasting in the first place!
These relationships have turned into business opportunities and have given me confidence to continue moving forward.
Q3: What Did I Learn?
The process of learning never stops and it doesn’t need to be directly related to your business or industry.
- Did you or could you develop a habit of learning regularly?
- Did you develop any new skills? If so, did you implement what you learned or leave it all on your to-do list?
I started reading daily as one of my New Year’s resolutions. There was so much I wanted to read and learn that it was overwhelming.
As a result, I committed to keeping it simple and I added a 15-minute reading block to my morning ritual. I found this relatively easy to stick with, with I'd estimate about a 75% success.
Yet, I exponentially elevated my learning when we decided to ditch cable.
We didn’t even go with basic cable, we ditched it all together, no bunny-ears, nothing!
As a common substitute, I pick up a book now. This practice has really accelerated my ability to consume content and learn.
Learning also applies to what you learned from your mistakes. Failure isn’t failure at all if you learn something from the experience. Here are a few questions you can ask related your mistakes:
- What mistakes did I make (list them out)?
- What did I, or should I have learned from these mistakes?
- What do I need to do differently in order to not make the same mistakes again?
I learn more from my failures than I do my successes. The big one for me was the fear of selling…
Entrepreneurship is all about selling!
We can avoid it, we can try to substitute it but at the end of the day, I procrastinated on selling.
The second half of 2016 for me will be a huge focus on how I can most easily sell my products and services. Simple as that.
I’ve also learned some other lessons, such as investing in unnecessary marketing. Marketing is not selling (don’t get them confused). I didn’t need to pay someone to run ads for me that don’t convert. I could have “not converted” all on my own!
Lastly, I launched my podcast with five episodes which I felt great about…Yet, I also had a big, whopping ZERO in the hopper.
Since Christmas, it’s been a struggle to get ahead. I’m finally around seven episodes ahead, but it took me six months to get there. Had I known, I would have launched with five, and had at least five additional episodes in the hopper ready to go, 100% complete, show notes and all.
Q4: Are My Processes Working?
Systems and processes happen either deliberately or organically. If you’re deliberate about how you setup your processes you have a greater understanding and a keen awareness for how you do things.
If something needs to change, you have your general steps documented and can adjust as necessary.
If they happen organically, then you’re faced with the task of not only changing your process, which isn’t clearly identified, but also having to then chase your tail and document what you’re currently doing, so you can then evaluate what’s wrong with it.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your processes:
- How could you have prevented time wasted?
- What is your morning ritual?
- When and how have you been working on projects?
- When and how have you been selling your products or services?
- How are you distracted and what is your process for mitigating distractions?
- What is your evening ritual? Are you getting enough sleep?
- How can you make the things you do each day better?
Guess which camp the “productivity guy” fell into, 75% of the time? You guessed it, the camp where I was chasing my tail trying to figure out what wasn’t working because I didn’t document how I was doing things.
Look, if I didn’t struggle with these things from time-to-time I wouldn’t be able to help you figure out how to be effective with your own personal productivity!
Part Two: “Look-Ahead” Questions:
Next week we’ll look ahead with our mid-year review and dive into the remaining five questions via Part 2 of this series!